Do you know I have been waiting all week to write you about my second best flea market acquisition of the month of December? I was hoping that it would warm up enough for me to take photos outside, but hélas, it's been stubbornly cold all week and I can't face the cold AND the sleepiness AND the time constraints of first thing in the morning, all three at the same time. So instead, I've taken some super oversaturated, light-blinded photos inside-- I hope you'll excuse the bad photography for a crazy good find. Check it out! My new Victorian cape!
How do you like that, folks! I was at the flea market in "Antiques Alley", just seconds after I picked up the Bob Mackie sequin dress from the Christmas party, and was walking across the aisle to mention to my dad that I was going to go try on this crazy thing on for size. As I reached him (he was rifling through some WWII era newsletters on a card table), hanging on the wall above a table was this cape on a metal hanger, and a large label tag safety pinned to the collar with "$15" written in bold black marker. The following mini-conversation ensued.
Lisa: Hey, dad, I was about to...what does that tag say?
Dad: Uhh...fifteen dollars.
Lisa: Not seventy-five, right?
Dad: No, it looks like a one.
Lisa: [practically hurdle jumps towards the hanger] Well, I was going to tell you I was going to go try this dress on, but now I'm going to buy this cape and THEN try this dress on.
It looks rougher in the pictures than it does in real life, but it's a fully lined, waist-length, stiff velvet cape with bear fur down the front of the piece. Someone has removed the fur in tufts (maybe for another project?) from the neck of the cape, but you can see where, at one time, it boasted a full, fur-trimmed stand-up collar, just like in the movies. It was love at first sight for this natty little thing!
I took the cape into the booth where a very old woman and her adult daughter were unwrapping ceramics from plastic bags to put them out on the tables for sale. "That looks like you," the daughter said, as I was wearing my huge Persian lamb coat and a black skirt and boots at the time, I probably did look like the kind of person who would snap up an antique velvet cape with the strike-instincts of a cobra. I stammered my way through the transaction (I am incapable of playing it cool when I'm that excited about a score), passed over a twenty dollar bill, and walked away with a hundred year old cape and five dollars change!
Fellow vintage-lovers, you know you can't get a battered left shoe missing its mate if it's older than 1960 for $15 at some of the flea market booths, so this was the coup of the century, as far as I'm concerned. How romantic and Dark Shadows-y am I going to feel in this? Here I am posed in front of the buggy blanket hanging in the den, and if there was just a tiny bit more definition on my face, I would use this photo as a calling card. So much drama in the 615!
I think this item from Dorothea's Closet is what the cape is actually supposed to look like, if someone hadn't hacked off the fur around the collar:
|Dramatic Collared Velvet Cape with Fur Trim circa Late 1800s|
Now, people, where do you find "bear trim" nowadays to restore this cape to its former glory? I saw a "hair purse" Zoë over at The Girl with the Flower made a couple months back, and now I'm thinking if I could get stiff-enough hair, this might be a reasonable stand-in for the poor bear's pelt! The wheels are spinning upstairs, folks, the wheels are spinning.
As I said about the $15 price being completely insane, here's a similar item on Etsy, just as distressed if not more so by age as mine is, selling for $250. Now, that doesn't mean they're necessarily going to get $250 for it, but it gives you an idea of how incredible it is to find something like this, being sold by an antiques dealer, for less than $50.
|Vintage Steampunk Victorian Edwardian Cape Caplet Carriage Fur|
|ELIZA DOOLITTLE Victorian Applique Beaded Fur Trim Capelet|
|Cape With Stand Up Collar Red Rich Satin Lining Beading and Trim Detail Victorian Goth|
|Antique 1890s Victorian Black Plush Velvet Wide Cape Soutache Braiding & Beading|
|Antique Victorian Black Velvet Mourning Cape with Jet beadwork, Lace appplique & Fur Trim|
|Victorian Carriage Cape Beaded Brown Velvet and Tooling Original Lining Beautiful Condition|
Anyway, what do you think? Do I look like a crazy Eliza Doolittle type character in my cape or do you agree that it was just un-pass-up-able in its inexpensiveness and its gothic charm? I seriously want to wear it every day. What do you think could be done about replacing the collar? Have you found anything seriously awesome for a seriously low price lately? What's the oldest piece in your vintage clothing closet? Let's talk!
That's all for today, but I will catch you kids on the flipside tomorrow. The weekend is coming closer and closer! Have a great Wednesday, and I'll see you soon!